One last ride
I believe it was the great philosopher Gamble Aware who said, "when the fun stops, stop".
While the fun hasn't necessarily stopped for me with regard to making radio, I've found myself at a point where the sheer number of projects I'm involved in make it hard to put the care and attention into my show that the opportunity I've been given deserves. So I made the difficult decision to end my Reform Radio show Virtua Love Affair with the next instalment on August 29th 2021 (9am BST, since you're asking).
Reform Radio has been a part of my life since the end of 2015 when I just put together a show just to see if I could. Since then, I've had two (consecutive) monthly shows, Audio/Visionaries (about the intersection of music and art) and Virtua Love Affair (basically a vaporwave showcase) and broadcast from three different studios (four, if you include my flat) as they won't stop succeeding and growing. Reform is made up of the most passionate, supportive family who not only give opportunities to blokes like me to pronounce artists' names wrong on air, but provide a lifeline to many people who struggle with many aspects of modern life. They do good community work, and it's something that's easy to take for granted. I certainly haven't been vocal enough about it.
I can't say for sure whether this is it for me and radio. Maybe it's just a hiatus until inspiration strikes again and the urge to show off my discoveries becomes too strong to ignore. The current dilemma is that I'm working full time on an animated TV show that requires a lot of mental energy, I just launched an Arnold Schwarzenegger podcast with my good friend Gavin which I edit and (badly*) promote... and I really want to start making comics again. Something has to give, and while each VLA show might only last 2 hours, it takes roughly a week of prep and - while pre-recording during COVID - an extra 2 days of recording and editing.
But the curation aspect is where the decision was made a little easier. If I put out a show, it isn't gonna be any old cack. Every spare second, I'm listening to new releases on Bandcamp, going down Soundcloud rabbit holes and binge 'watching' YouTube vaporwave / synthwave / mallsoft compilations. I'm contacting musicians with 57 listens to ask if I can play their amazing track that you can't download anywhere (at least legally). This stuff matters to me. The theme of each show needs to be consistent, the flow of tracks balanced. It's more about mood and immersion than conversation. And that takes work, my friend. Work and time. More time than I can spare.
So that's it. One last ride in four weeks time. I already have about 30 minutes of the 2 hours planned out. It wasn't intended to be the final show, but life is about change, so I guess it'll be one hour of new stuff and one hour of greatest hits.
Here are a few things I've learned over the last 5½ years in radio:
You will find more music that speaks to you if you actively seek it
You can absolutely play a Commodore 64 track right after some 2010s funk
Somebody should create an album cover database with artist credits
You can recover from disaster
Staying hydrated is crucial, but have a ten minute song ready if the toilet is a way off
Even a socially anxious introvert can confidently talk to an unspecified number of people worldwide
Everybody who has listened to either show, even if it was for five minutes, thanks so much. In an age with limitless entertainment options, it's a privilege to have an audience.
I hope you'll continue (or start) to listen to Reform Radio shows. The station has been Aria-nominated for a good reason. My archive (approx 95 hours of music, with occasional features and interviews) is here: https://www.reformradio.co.uk/artist/Virtua_Love_Affair
Please support artists, financially. Bandcamp Friday is a great way to do this. In fact, support independent artists of all kinds or the arts will disappear.
* I mean, it launched two months ago and here's the first blog even mentioning it.